Doubts arise over death of ter­ror­ist in Syria

Kalgoorlie Miner - - NEWS - Syd­ney

In­tel­li­gence agen­cies are work­ing to con­firm if no­to­ri­ous Aus­tralian ter­ror­ist Khaled Shar­rouf is still alive amid re­ports of pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence that fel­low Is­lamic State fighter Mo­hamed Elo­mar is dead.

Highly clas­si­fied im­ages cap­tured by the US mil­i­tary in al-Raqqa, Syria, have con­firmed Elo­mar was killed ear­lier this month in a drone strike, ac­cord­ing to News Cor­po­ra­tion re­ports.

There are three im­ages that re­port­edly con­firm Elo­mar was killed by a drone dur­ing an at­tack on an Is­lamic State con­voy, but no ev­i­dence that Shar­rouf is also dead.

For­eign Min­is­ter Julie Bishop said yesterday author­i­ties were at­tempt­ing to con­firm the re­ports.

“Our se­cu­rity and in­tel­li­gence agen­cies are work­ing to ver­ify re­ports that Khaled Shar­rouf sur­vived a coali­tion air strike which is be­lieved to have killed Mo­hamed Elo­mar,” Ms Bishop said.

News Corp says im­ages clearly iden­tify Elo­mar, with one pic­ture show­ing the 30-year-old for­mer Syd­ney man stand­ing next to an SUV trav­el­ling with a tac­ti­cal unit of for­eign fight­ers.

Another im­age is said to show de­bris in the wake of the mis­sile strike.

It was ini­tially re­ported last Mon­day that Shar­rouf was killed along with Elo­mar.

Shar­rouf, who served a four-year jail term for his role in the Pen­den­nis terror plot, is be­lieved to have also sur­vived another rocket at­tack on his car that killed three peo­ple in Syria last month.

In 2005, counter-ter­ror­ism Op­er­a­tion Pen­den­nis un­cov­ered ji­hadist cells in Mel­bourne and Syd­ney amass­ing guns, am­mu­ni­tion and bomb-mak­ing equip­ment to use in at­tacks on home soil.

“He’s (Shar­rouf ’s) got nine lives,” a source who had seen the im­ages con­firm­ing Elo­mar’s death said, ac­cord­ing to News Corp.

The latest de­vel­op­ment comes as Shar­rouf ’s wife, Tara Net­tle­ton, seeks to re­turn to Syd­ney from Syria with the cou­ple’s five chil­dren, in­clud­ing a son who was photo- graphed hold­ing a sev­ered head last year.

Shar­rouf and Elo­mar, both of whom trav­elled to Syria in 2013, gained no­to­ri­ety last year when they posed for photos hold­ing the sev­ered heads of en­emy fight­ers.

Fair­fax Media has pub­lished a text mes­sage pur­ported to be from Shar­rouf ’s eldest daugh­ter Zaynab — who is said to have mar­ried Elo­mar at the age of just 13 — to her grand­mother Karen Net­tle­ton in Syd­ney.

“My hus­band got hit by a drone yesterday and got killed,” she wrote on June 20.

Karen Net­tle­ton said she was told of Elo­mar’s death when a mes­sen­ger vis­ited her at home.

“I was also told that Khaled Shar­rouf, my daugh­ter’s hus­band, was miss­ing and pre­sumed dead,” she said.

Immigration Min­is­ter Peter Dut­ton said there was still un­cer­tainty in re­la­tion to the fate of Shar­rouf.

“I don’t know if he is alive or dead,” he said in Can­berra.

“We don’t want these sort of peo­ple back in our coun­try. I said last week and I made it very clear that I think that if there are ne­go­ti­a­tions, if there are dis­cus­sions to take place with the fam­ily ... they need to be con­ducted be­tween the fam­ily and the Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice.” AAP

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